Is a 30-Minute Ab Workout Too Long?

Many men and women long for well-defined and strong abdominal muscles. This desire for a better looking midsection can lead to intense training sessions that last 30 minutes or more. If you are worried about overtraining your abdominal muscles with a long workout, you can put your mind at ease because it is unlikely that you will do damage to your body if you train your abs for 30 minutes during a workout.

A woman is doing bicycle crunches.
Credit: Okikukai/iStock/Getty Images

Muscular Fatigue

According to Len Kravitz, Ph.D. of the University of New Mexico, your abdominal muscles are unique among the muscles in your body in the sense that it is difficult to fatigue them so much that you cannot train them on consecutive days. This is because you are constantly using your abdominal muscles throughout the day to balance yourself and bend over. Performing 30 minutes of standard crunches, sit-ups and oblique exercises will help you tone your abs without causing damage to them.

Resistance Training Limitations

If you decide to add extra resistance to your abdominal exercises using weights, you may still be able to train for 30 minutes in a session, but you are more likely to need recuperation time between workouts to prevent overtraining. The Rehabilitation Research and Development branch of the Department of Veterans Affairs states that "weight-resistive abdominal exercises should usually be alternated with a day of rest."

Workout Variety

Though physically you may be able to exercise your abdominal muscles for 30 minutes straight in a workout, you may quickly tire of this type of training mentally and find yourself lacking motivation. Change your workout every two or three weeks to counteract this effect. This may mean adding new exercises, such as reverse crunches or hanging leg raises. You can also change your workout by simply varying the number of sets or repetitions you perform for a particular exercise.

Signs of Overtraining

While you are unlikely to fatigue your abdominals even if you train them every day, it is still possible to overtrain them. According to Jeremy Likness, a fitness trainer certified by the International Sports Sciences Administration, many people only work their rectus abdominis during ab training. This is the front abdominal wall of muscle. If you overtrain this muscle without using proper form to train the supporting muscles, your stomach may begin to bulge and give you the appearance of having fat instead of washboard abs.

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